Archives for posts with tag: advice

Dear doctoral supervisor,

“I was blissfully unaware how long it would take me to write up. To be honest I would have preferred a more clear marker from my supervisor, or from the department, saying stop doing experiments now and write! I was expecting someone to say when I had enough data, because I never felt I did, so instead I kept going much longer than I needed in the lab because I didn’t know how much was enough. I feel pretty annoyed about that.”

FullSizeRender.jpgIt’s 246 days ‪until the 31st of October. I mention this date as we have around 1100 third year doctoral students whose theses are due on that date*. With 8 months to go, now is a perfect time to make sure that your thesis writers know it’s time to spend some time each week — an hour a day, every day? — writing. Read the rest of this entry »

ask_expert

Let’s get one thing clear – I’m not saying everyone needs to do a placement or an internship. In fact I’m writing this to stress that there is more to work experience than a 3 month placement – a placement may not be what you need at all. For researchers, whether PhD student or research staff, a placement may not be practical, possible or preferable.

Read the rest of this entry »

For a festival of peace and goodwill it seems to manage to create a lot of stress and hardship. So how can you ensure you enjoy the festive season rather than feeling like you’ve been ‘sleighed’! As always we are concerned about researcher wellbeing,  so here are some tips for you> All obvious? So how come you don’t do them!

Winter tiredness

Shorter days provwinter-tirednesside us with less daylight hours and your brain produces more of a hormone called melatonin, which makes you sleepy. We often have to keep going but we need to accept we will slow down over winter. To help keep your energy levels up try to eat regular meals/healthy snacks every three to four hours, rather than large meals. Regular exercise can give you an energy boost and make you feel less tired. Read the rest of this entry »

happy-new-year-fireworks

I must admit that I ummed and ahhed about posting this entry. For a start, I’m still in pretty deep denial about it already being September, and the fact that the new academic year is about to begin; and, for another thing, I’ve touched on my approach to resolutions and goal-setting before in this blog, and I was conscious that I could be about to repeat or, maybe, entirely contradict that post. But, actually, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about my New (academic) Year’s resolutions, and, from talking to other colleagues and researchers, I’m not alone. Read the rest of this entry »

As the build up increases to the Paralympics, Channel 4 have launched a trailer called, ‘We’re the Superhumans’ which is receiving a lot of positive press and has even been described as the “best TV trailer ever”. It is great in so many ways; uplifting, insightful, educational and inspiring, it really shows what people can achieve. But one aspect of it left me feeling very frustrated. Throughout the trailer people are singing, saying or signing the words “yes I can” but at 2 minutes 15 seconds the shot goes to an office with a ‘careers’ sign on the door and a man is his 50s, wearing a grey suit, is talking to a schoolboy who is a wheelchair user and saying, “no you can’t”. It only lasts a couple of seconds and then returns to the previous, positivity but the message is very clear. Careers advisers will tell you what to do, or more likely, what you can’t do, they’ll judge you and will ultimately trample all over your dreams and aspirations. Don’t take my word for it, have a look yourself. But do come back and read the rest of this post! Read the rest of this entry »

So how do people normally think about professors? eccentrics who are entirely focused on their research who are unorganised, work into the night with no social life, get frustrated at not being understood, lack interpersonal skills, intolerant, moody….I think you get the picture! I’m sure not all professors are like that but as your academic supervisor gained their position mainly due to their research skills, it should be no surprise they just aren’t that fluffy.

Eccentric

Image 1

In fact you may think if you cried in front of them they would ‘take those tears, freeze them, and throw them in a glass of whiskey and drink it … to increase their spirit-crushing abilities’ (Quote 1)

So how are you going to manage your relationship with your supervisor so that you can get your PhD with minimum pain? In conversations with students I have found that one area that often causes problems is the supervisory meeting, so here are some top tips gleaned from those who have been willing to share their ideas. Read the rest of this entry »

This post is brought to you by a rainy weekend in Whitby…

rain

Rainy Whitby!

I’m not a careers adviser. I don’t even play one on TV.  At the University of Sheffield, we’re incredibly lucky to have a Careers Service that understand the particular needs of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, and has expert careers advisers dedicated to supporting researchers as they plan their careers, either within academia or within a different sector.

Nevertheless, I talk to a lot of researchers in my job and, increasingly, researchers want to talk about and reflect upon whether academia is the right choice for them. I think this is really positive; after all, surely one of the big reasons for undertaking doctoral or postdoctoral study is to open-up opportunities, not to close them down. Read the rest of this entry »

As I was reading through the usual array of feedback, I began to wonder as always, if everyone attended the same course. As usual the responses ranged from it being a waste of time to finding it a highly enlightening experience.

Fortunately the majority found the opportunity to meet with others from different backgrounds and  rblog 1esearch areas helpful, productive and beneficial, enjoyable.

The stimulating discussions changed their way of thinking, provided views they had previously not considered and made them think differently or even changed their opinion. (Their words not mine.) Read the rest of this entry »

If you’re a researcher in the social sciences you’re probably aware already that it’s possible to work as a social researcher in central or local government, with a think tank or with a major charity or campaigning organisation. However, you might not be aware that similar opportunities exist with a range of other organisations including: faith groups; industry trade associations, market research companies and media organisations.

If you want to see what’s out there the following websites are potentially very useful:

  • The Social Research Association’s site includes: a guide to careers in social research outside academia; a list of current vacancies and a directory of organisations which carry out social research.
  • W4MP lists jobs with political parties, pressure groups and think tanks.
  • The Government Social Research site provides an overview of opportunities in central government.
  • Jobs Go Public advertises opportunities with local authorities and social housing providers.
  • Charity Job is a good source for jobs in the ‘third sector’.

When looking at adverts on these sites, it’s important to check what exactly the employer means by ‘research’. Some posts will provide an opportunity to contribute to knowledge by carrying out original research but others will simply involve collating information from published sources and using this to produce briefing materials. It’s important also to bear in mind that think tanks and pressure groups will often have a particular political or moral agenda that they wish to advance and so they will be looking for research outputs that are compatible with this.

In central and local government and with the larger think tanks and charities there’s usually a clear career structure for social researchers. Promotion often means moving away from ‘hands-on’ research towards project management, seeking out new business and managing relationships with internal and external customers. In smaller organisations prospects for progression may be limited if you want to continue in the research function, but there may be possibilities for advancement by moving into other roles. In these kinds of organisations research work might in any case be combined with other functions such as event management or PR and media relations and this in itself will help you to broaden your skills.

Overall, salary progression tends not to be as good as in academia, but in most cases there is a better work/life balance. Also, a research career outside academia can offer you the chance sometimes to have an immediate impact on public policy and the possibility of gaining a higher public profile for your work.

Finally, if you choose the right kind of job, continue to develop your knowledge and research skills and maintain a wide range of contacts it may well be possible to return to an academic research career if that’s what you decide you want to do.

Ernst and Young, the multinational accountancy and professional services firm, attracted a lot of media attention recently when it announced that it would no longer require applicants to have a 2:1 degree and the equivalent of three B grades at A level in order to be considered for its graduate programmes.

If you’re a postgraduate researcher or a recent doctoral graduate and you’re thinking about applying for graduate entry schemes you might be wondering what relevance this news has for you. Surely if you have a PhD it can’t really matter what class of bachelor’s degree you got, let alone how well you did at A Level? Unfortunately, in a great many cases it does still matter simply because the forms for these high throughput application processes aren’t flexible enough to deal with PhD graduates. 

Read the rest of this entry »